Monday, June 25, 2012
The Amazing Thom Tex Edwards
By: Rebecca G. Wilson
I first became aware of Thom Tex Edwards in the early 1990s when I saw a flyer for one of his bands, the Swingin' Cornflake Killers, on one of my roommates' walls. I loved the flyer's archetypal images of Vampirella, a curvy blonde cowgirl and other femme fatales that had been crudely collaged into the xeroxed imagery by a zine artist named Grottu. The slipshod layout had a ransom note feel that seemed to say who cares if it's not perfect, it's got hot girls all over it! Years later I saw another cool flyer of a blonde woman on horseback, again for one of T. Tex Edwards' bands. Still having never heard them in those pre-youtube days, I asked a Los Angeles goth punk friend named Pixie, who is this Tex band? There are TWO Tex bands in L.A. she told me, Tex and the Horseheads and Tex and the Saddletramps. Okay, I thought. Who's better? I asked. They're both great, she replied.
The next time I was to come across Tex's name was about twenty years later online. I found out that Tex hailed from Texas and after listening to his different recordings online I became a fan of his music. I especially loved his serious yet tongue-in-cheek covers of obscure country murder songs and 60s garage songs. I also continued to admire his choices in flyer and album cover art. I asked an artist friend of mine, the Pizz, if he knew who had done the cover art of one of Tex's Out on Parole records and Pizz wrote to me,"I can tell you the story: The band came to Long Gone John of Sympathy Records with a request to put out their record. Long Gone threw a seemingly impossible task before them: If they came up with some amazing cover art, they'd have a deal...and so they did, and he put it out. Yes, I have that on 12 inch. It's the best cover ever..." The artist Tex had gotten to do the cover art is named Bob Frye, and the cartoonish painting of an angry guy coming home finding a barracho and his topless, old lady whooping it up is a cowpunk classic. Another of my favorite Tex Edwards poster designs is a maniacal, woodcut style portrait of Tex by the Hancock brothers.
After being blown away by reading of Tex's long history in the southwest punk scene along with the myriad articles and music links he posts on twitter and facebook (his own material along with obscure blues, rockabilly and art) I asked him if he would do an interview.
RGW - You seem to have an incredibly wide range of musical tastes. This is reflected in the music you have produced in different projects, ranging from your late 70s punk band the Nervebreakers to punk/rockabilly projects such as Tex Edwards and Out on Parole. What are some of your favorite genres of music, blues, punk or what?
TEX - I like elements of most genres of music... There are certain songs or melodies that move me in most genres & styles... Even in hip-hop or opera, there's a few... Although those two are probably my least favorite because of the predominance of the human voice... The human voice can be a wonderful, expressive instrument at times... But also be a grating, unpleasant one too... To complicate things even more, there's some grating voices pleasing to the individual ear of one person but maybe not to others... Captain Beefheart, John Lydon, David Bowie & Jello Biafra come to mind...
RGW - You have played in so many bands. What are the names of the bands you have played with (in chronological order) and who do you play with now?
TEX - Starting in 1973 with: Diamonds Forever, The Idiots, Mr. Nervous Breakdown, The Nervebreakers, Tex & the Saddletramps, The Jungle Heirs, The Texicans, Out On Parole, FTM, The Vagabond Loafers, The Loafin' Hyenas, The Swingin' Cornflake Killers, The Toe Tags, The Affordable Caskets, & The Texwardians. But I've also recorded singles in conjunction with other several other established bands: The Hickoids, Lithium Xmas, Fireworks and Graceland...
Currently playing with Out On Parole, and also The Texwardians, which is a stripped-down version of Out On Parole with an added acoustic guitar in place of drums, for quieter gigs and playing in smaller rooms. And the occasional Nervebreakers re-union shows too...
RGW - Your voice sounds different in the Nervebreakers than it does in your punk country band songs. Have you tried to change up your singing tones on purpose or was this just natural?
TEX - Mainly because I was much younger then (over 30 years ago?)... Over the years I've had to learn how to sing better, more natural & less strained... Also, I've embraced more styles & experimentation & variety... The natural progression is to try different things & see what works for me...
RGW - So did you really attend some true blue rockabilly shows back in the day? What year did you first start going to concerts in?
TEX - The first concert I ever attended was when I was 14 or so (1968?)... The Jeff Beck Group (with a young Rod Stewart on vocals) at an auditorium over on the SMU campus... It was loud as hell & that was my first introduction as to how an electric guitar could be the center-of-attention & a show & artistic expression all on it's own... Plus there was the element of tawdriness & anything-could-happen when Stewart strutted around in tight pants with an unzipped fly all evening... As far as the real Rockabilly-era goes, I was too young to experience that in person... My older brother, Dan, was nine years older than me & a musician... So I caught wind of all that through him... As a little kid, I would listen to his Elvis, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran & Jimmy Reed records... Then, as a teen, sometimes my Dad would take me down to the club to see my brother perform in Gene Summers' band... Gene was long past his days of hit records, but he would pull out a few of his old hits every now & then... Then in 1980, I first saw Link Wray, when he played in Fort Worth with Robert Gordon, & that was an ear-opener...
RGW - What was it like opening for the Sex Pistols? Did you meet Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious? What were they like?
TEX - Actually, opening for The Ramones on their first trip to Texas, the year before (in '77), was more of a big deal locally... In meeting like-minded folks from all over the North Texas region & creating a local scene... The Pistols show was more of a media event... That was the first time we were ever on TV... Albeit only for 45 seconds on the 10 o'clock news that night... I was really ill with the flu & lucky to be there at all & barely remember that night... I seem to remember one of my bandmates catching the Pistols' roadie walking out the back door with our guitars... "Whoops, wrong guitars, mate, sorry"... Uh-huh, right...
RGW - What was it like to play punk rock shows in late 70s Texas? Did Texas punk rockers ever get hassled or beaten up by narrowminded folks? People forget that back then there was no Mtv and you guys must have looked like Martians to some Texans, no?
TEX - Oh yeah... Texas has a long tradition of hassling the non-conformists... Back in the 1960's, the San Antonio police told Sir Doug Sahm: "get outta town & don't come back..." And he didn't come back, for a long, long time after that, until years later when times had changed... That was in a big city, but in the smaller towns, it was even worse... Thus in the late '70s you had the Vomit Pigs gettin' the hell out of Daingerfield & moving to Dallas & Biscuit (Big Boys) leaving East Texas & moving to Austin... Back then, the punks didn't wear uniforms like skinheads & mall-punks later did... They created their own look with what was at hand... And the late 70's punks were diverse... It was a rag-tag collection of misfits & outcasts who came together because no one else would have them... Glam-rock remnants, fatties, druggies, record-store clerks, gays, artists, art-rock remnants & troubled loners...
RGW - What are some of the best live shows you've ever seen?
TEX - The best one would have to be The Cramps in 1982 in Dallas. It was the wildest, most intense, chaotic (in a good way) show I've ever experienced. Lux was jumping on tables, breaking bottles, and letting it all hang out that night. It was scary and mesmerizing...
RGW - One of my favorite songs by you is "LSD Made a Wreck Out of Me." I love how you mixed up a psychedelic garage sound with a country feel in that number. Is that a cover or did you write it?
TEX - Oh, it's a cover originally done by Wendell Austin & The Country Swings on Wreck Records, you can hear the original on You Tube [http://youtu.be/CGufQ_TxB88]. Mike Buck dug up all those old songs we recorded for that Pardon Me... album. He still drums with Out On Parole when he can fit it into his busy schedule. He's also part of Antone's Record Shop, which is a great, great record store here in Austin.
RGW - Did LSD Make a Wreck Out of You?
TEX - Ha, ha, ha! No, not really. But I did partake of some back in the days of my youth. But I didn't go overboard on it, like I did later on, with booze and some other substances. I used to think I had to be fucked up to play music, and just to face life. But you know what? Everything is alot more fun and rewarding when you're not. It took me a long, long time to figure that one out.
RGW - What is new with your bands? Do you have any new releases out now or planned?
TEX - First, there's a soon to be released (by Saustex) anthology, entitled Intexicated!, consisting of post-Nervebreakers material from a bunch of those bands I just listed. Various one-off projects, songs from out of print singles, some previously unreleased material, and some tracks from obscure foreign releases; all dating from roughly 1982 through 2000...
Then, Out On Parole is preparing to enter the studio next month, and record an album of new material we have been working up over the last couple of years. I'm really looking forward to that...
RGW - Along with putting out numerous great albums over the years you are a prolific blogger. Would you like to tell us the names of some of your blogs and what they cover?
TEX - I don't know if I'd call them all blogs, but I do post links to, and re-blogs of things I find interesting on a bunch of Twitter and Tumblr pages. Yumsville is gardening, food and travel; Outtathecave is sports; Litteratured is writing and books; ttexmusic and nerve_breakers on Twitter and country hix's, best-frozen-treats, britrockaholic, and dirtylowdown on Tumblr are all music related. Then there's my personal pages for miscellaneous at ttexed on Twitter and wewantnothing on Tumblr. Confused yet? My actual blog is t.tex's hexes on Blogspot. They all keep me busy and out of major mischief...
Sunday, February 5, 2012
Rebecca Gwyn Wilson
May 6, 1998
A Study of Linguistic Characteristics in T.S. Eliot’s Portrayal of Women in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”
In “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” Thomas Stearns Eliot presents the internal monologue (or rather dialogue as he talks to himself) of a 40 year old man. Eliot was very guarded about his private life yet he said J. Alfred Prufrock was in part about a man of about 40 and in part himself as he wrote that the poem’s roots lie in the recording of “the private habits of mind, the fears and the solitary impulses that led him to a religious position.” The aging Prufrock feels alienated from the genteel surroundings of well dressed women making small talk while partaking in tea drinking. Prufrock is frustrated especially by what he perceives as the shallow nature of social interaction between men and women in contrast to the esoteric search for meaning raging in his mind. Eliot uses linguistic techniques to present Prufrock’s dilemma as well as to portray his alienation from women.
One of the ways in which Eliot presents Prufrock’s philosophical dilemma (are all of his intellectual meanderings meaningless?) is by using modal auxiliaries. Eliot’s practical use of modal auxiliaries demonstrates Prufrock’s attempt to make a world to word fit by using agentive verbs with permissive interrogatives addressed to himself. Take for example the following lines,
And indeed there will be time
To wonder, ‘Do I dare?’ and ‘Do I dare?’ (p. 10)
So how should I presume? (p. 11)
In the first example, Prufrock addresses himself with the semi-modal dare and in the second example he addresses himself with the modal auxiliary should. Prufrock’s conflict is apparent in that he is constantly questioning himself about whether or not he should perform some sort of an act to break the boundary between his inner and outer worlds.
Although Prufrock yearns to connect with others, he has difficulty doing so. On a non-linguistic level Prufrock’s inability to connect with women in particular is blamed on their shortcomings and non-intellectual attributes - gossip, beauty, and vapid small talk. The lack of appeal that women hold for Prufrock’s intellect is first shown as they are trivialized by being referred to as a mass noun. When women are first addressed as a mass noun they appear as a group that is part of Prufrock’s background.
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo. (p. 9)
Eliot also presents here an atelic situation as the women “come and go”. These durative verbs have no goals and therefore the women appear aimless like a nomadic herd of animals in contrast to the impotent Prufrock who just can’t bring himself to act let alone wander.
To further show the split between Prufrock’s inner experience and connection with his physical surroundings Eliot uses the present perfect to show the perfect of experience and the perfect of result. For example, in the line, “For I have known them all already” the verb “known” is imperfective (durative) but entire phrase is converted into the perfect of experience because of the use of the word “already”. On the other hand, the line “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;” is a phrase showing the perfect of result. These two consecutive phrases show firstly that Prufrock’s inner frustration with women (them) has been ongoing (since it is imperfect) and second that he has attempted to quell his alienation and fit in by performing punctual acts of decorum (measured).
Eliot returns to the theme of portraying Prufrock’s alienation from women throughout the poem. Another facet is that women are not portrayed as individual agents of intentional causation. More precisely, women’s actions lack a mental component in “the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” as their body parts or physical attributes, are referred to as count nouns which serve as agents punctual acts. In the following lines, for example, it is a woman’s “arms” and “dress” that serve as subjects and agents of action.
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare,
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress? (p. 11)
When women are the subject of a line the few punctual acts presented are certainly not intellectual,
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl, (p. 13)
It is also of interest to note that these actions are example generic aspect and therefore reveal a sense of essentialism. Further examples of generic aspect applied to women are seen in the following lines,
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin? (p. 12)
. . . after the skirts that
trail along the floor-- (p. 13)
Eliot is showing that non-intellectual acts are what women do. This is sexist since Eliot is habitually characterizing females as necessarily behaving in a certain way.
Eliot’s hostility towards women along with Prufrock’s alienation towards them is further shown in that out of the few punctual acts performed by them some are extremely violent. For example,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald)
brought in upon a platter, (p. 12)
The following acts performed by count noun female body parts also reflect a negative portrayal of women,
And I have known the eyes already, known them all-
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned (punctual) and wriggling (durative) on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume? (p. 11)
Eliot ties up his hostility towards women by returning to his portrayal of their shallow obsession with appearances (his balding head),
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown. (p. 14)
This is a return to the poem’s early imagery of women’s voices talking of Michelangelo as Eliot uses the present perfect to connect the past to the present. Thus he develops a notion that women are a seductive image like sirens - but sirens do not drown him - human women do.
The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism, T. S. Eliot, Faber and Faber, London 1975
Eliot’s Early Years, Lyndall Gordon, Oxford University Press 1977
The Bloomsbury Guide to English Literature, Edited by Marion Wynne Davies, Bloomsbury Publishing Ltd. 1990
 Eliot’s Early Years, Lyndall Gordon, Oxford University Press 1977, p. 45
 Ibid, p. 23
 Ibid, “The persona was finally perfected in the summer of 1911 when Eliot created the character of J. Alfred Prufrock. In ‘Prufrock’ the Laforgian split into mocking commentator and droll sufferer is reworked as a split into prophet and groomed conformist. Eliot’s prophet commentator evaluates experience from a withdrawn position, exhorts, mocks, and offers salvation. The conformist suffers the experience, doubts, despairs and resigns himself ot his absurd ties with society. (p. 31)
 “Actions characteristically consist of two components, a mental component and a physical component.”
The Structure of Action, Minds, Brains and Science, John Searle, Harvard 1984 p. 3
 . . . in ‘Prufrock’ - Eliot caricatured his embarrassing friendshop with an emotional older woman, Adeline Moffat, who used to serve tea to Harvard men in a home crowded with bric-a-brac, . . . Adeline is so elusive in Eliot’s poems because he does not strive to elicit her character, in the manner say of James, but immediately fits her to a variety of female stereotypes - the gushy romantic, the dangerous enchantress, the languid socialite. The interest of these poems lies not in the woman but in her effect on the potential lover. He is uneasily aware that the woman points up his pallid appetite for what others might readily desire but is, at the same time, defensively scornful of her taste, conversation and brains Prufrock has fleeting erotic sensations - the perfume from thewoman’s dress or her arms moving to wrap her shawl or throw it off can whip his attention from his foggyself-absorption but she is not capable of real exchange and is therefore unworthy ofhis confession. (p. 26)
Eliot’s Early Years, Lyndall Gordon